Report and highlights as Tottenham claim a 2-1 home win over Everton; Richarlison and Heung-Min Son gave Spurs half-time lead; Andre Gomes’ goal created hope for Everton, who had a Dominic Calvert-Lewin goal controversially disallowed; Spurs go fourth, Everton are 16th
Tottenham returned to the top four of the Premier League but were fortunate to see Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s goal disallowed as they edged to a 2-1 win over Everton.
With Manchester City busy winning the Club World Cup in Saudi Arabia, Spurs grabbed their opportunity to move above the newly-crowned world champions and end Everton’s hopes of winning a fifth successive away game in the top flight.
Ange Postecoglou’s side may have been two goals to the good at half-time thanks to Richarlison and Heung-Min Son but the scoreline did not reflect the pattern of the game, with Everton guilty of spurning chances.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin thought he had finally ended an eight-game scoring drought when he drilled a finish past Guglielmo Vicario in the second half, only for the officials to disallow the strike following a VAR review for a foul on Emerson Royal by Andre Gomes which Soccer Saturday’s Mike Dean called “very, very soft”.
Andre Gomes was able to provide Everton with some late hope thanks to a powerful finish as the ball dropped his way from a set-piece and Arnaut Danjuma came within inches of salvaging a point when his shot rebounded off the bar and off the line via Vicario’s knee deep into stoppage time.
But Spurs held onto a hard-fought point that moves them back into the top four at Christmas, while Everton are 16th.
How Spurs clung on against luckless Everton
Everton’s form has been so impressive in recent weeks that they arrived in north London knowing victory would extend their winning run on the road to five matches.
The last time they achieved that feat in the top flight was in 1970 – and they lifted the First Division title just weeks later.
A similar fate does not await Sean Dyche’s team but they more than matched Champions League chasers Spurs throughout the encounter, and could have been ahead in the opening minutes had Calvert-Lewin’s touch not let him down when played in behind the hosts’ defence.
The striker was left to rue that miss when Richarlison fired home at the near post against his former club, before Son rattled in the rebound after Jordan Pickford parried Brennan Johnson’s shot back into the danger zone.
Spurs did not have it all their own way though, and Vicario was forced to keep out efforts from Calvert-Lewin and Jack Harrison during an even first half.
The luckless Calvert-Lewin then had his celebrations curtailed after Michael Oliver, the VAR, advised referee Stuart Attwell to overturn his decision to award the striker’s goal.
Gomes made contact with Emerson Royal’s knee as the Spurs defender attempted to shield the ball but it was hardly a clear and obvious error, with Dean saying the footage was “not enough to overturn it”.
The midfielder finally breached Spurs’ defences with a rasping drive and that goal led to a remarkable final period of the game as Everton were presented with a host of chances.
Spurs refused to adopt a defensive mentality to protect their lead and Danjuma should have made his former club pay on three occasions, twice firing over on his left foot before seeing Vicario somehow keep out his volley as the ball cannoned down off the bar.
Danjuma had been flagged offside but replays showed that, not only was he onside, but most of the ball had crossed the line.
But, as it had all afternoon, fortune favoured Spurs, who have now recorded three successive wins in response to their five-game winless run heading into winter.
Dyche: VAR ‘over-reffed’ Calvert-Lewin incident
Dyche insisted there was not enough contact on Royal for Calvert-Lewin’s goal to be ruled out, adding: “I’m a big fan of VAR but I don’t know where that one lives today because I think VAR has over-reffed the moment.
“The referee and the linesperson have an amazing view. They’ve made the decision with all their experience of doing it. It goes out of the window because they can find contact. They find contact with virtually everything.
“My question is, where is the line between trusting the on-field decision and the referee’s instinct in what they’re doing?
“Many people will disagree as they will say there is contact, but if I’m the person in the VAR room, I am looking at the referee’s position, the linesperson’s position and thinking, ‘what view have they got?’
“Their views were perfect. It was the perfect moment for them to be allowed to referee the game. VAR cannot be refereeing every moment. Nearly every touch is a foul.
“In that moment, there’s not enough contact for a mature, professional footballer to go down. The game has got to be really careful.”
Postecoglou: This is a big three points
Postecoglou acknowledged the win presented his side with a “big three points”, saying: “I think we started the game well and got ourselves in front.
“We got a little wasteful with the ball and some of that was because of Everton’s pressure. They work hard and make it difficult. We had to show resilience in the second half to get a result.
“We went through that difficult spell where we got ourselves in front but didn’t end up putting the game to bed.
“In the context of everything we’re going through with the squad, it’s a big three points.”
The Spurs boss also praised the performance of Vicario, whose save from Danjuma deep into stoppage time preserved the win, saying: “He has been [strong] pretty much from the first game.
“Some games we haven’t needed a lot and today we did. He’s a great shot-stopper and is dealing with a different back-four in lots of games.
“He’s got a maturity which helps the team in those moments.”
Analysis: Spurs will know they got lucky
“Postecoglou’s diplomatic response to seeing his side cling onto a win over Everton was that Tottenham had produced a ‘different kind of performance’. A more blunt reflection would be that they were lucky.
“Everton were the more threatening side in the first half yet found themselves 2-0 down, while the decision by the VAR to advise referee Attwell to disallow Calvert-Lewin’s goal was extremely harsh.
“Postecoglou’s refusal to instruct his side to shut up shop and hold onto what they have is well established but seemed incredibly reckless – and it should have led to further Everton goals after Gomes’ late strike.
“Danjuma perhaps showed why Tottenham decided not to make his loan move permanent last season – and why he has struggled for games under Sean Dyche this term – by wasting three glorious chances to snatch the points.
“Everton ended the game with more shots, more final-third entries and more expected goals. Frankly, they should have at least claimed a draw – and Postecoglou will know that.”
Analysis: Gomes shows he still has Everton future